Dubbed as an “island of no return”, this magnificent islands bordered by bigger islands of Luzon in the north, Samar in the east, Masbate in the west and Tagapul-an in the south. Now I know why they call it like that. One of my former colleagues found the love of her life on the island. It was a rewarding experience living and working in these islands for 6 months as a community health nurse. The struggle when we have bad weather and the reward of having a peaceful lifestyle still lingers on my mind. The weekends spent with colleagues basking in the sea-caves, mesmerizing sunsets while swinging with my hammock, occasional hikes on the other side of the island, several island-hopping invites with random friends were just a few of my precious memories in this small island 2 hours from mainland Samar.
Six Months as a Community Health Nurse
We were deployed by the Department of Health for 6 months in this tiny and secluded island 2 hours away from the mainland. During the orientation, they told us that San Vicente is known as “island of no return”. In 6 months, we had a good time living in a simple lifestyle far from the mainland. Sometimes when the weather is bad like there’s a typhoon, we have to utilize what is available on the island such as root crops like taro and sweet potato, bananas or few planted vegetables. Boats cannot travel to the mainland if the weather won’t permit. We only cross the island when it’s payday. It’s an opportunity for us to buy everything we want and brought it to the island. We usually buy foods that would last for a month since most of the commodities are imported from the mainland.
Resourcefulness was developed during our stay on the island. I remember one time when there was a dengue outbreak and we have to transport the patient to the mainland with a small boat. We surpassed the winds and luckily the patient made it. After recuperation, the family would always bring fish for us as a sign of gratitude.
What to do there:
Island hopping around Naranjo Group of Islands is one of the major activity around San Vicente. The Pink Beach in Sila Island is a must-visit. A secluded beach enclaved within Naranjo. You’ll not regret visiting this island. The crystal clear beach and the pinkish sand is something locals are proud of. To get there, you need to rent a small boat or hitch from the local fishermen. Travel time is less than an hour. You can camp there for a fee or stay in one of the cottages at the pink beach. Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling, food, and water. Supplies there are so limited.
Basking in numerous coves at Brgy. Punta was a typical weekend for us. Close to the hospital where I worked is a beautiful cove where locals go for a picnic. This is one of the best spots for sunset watching. Choose your cove and it’s all yours for the day.
Hiking around the island of San Vicente was another fun activity and explore some of the sitios (small village) with few households. I can vividly recall how we ventured most of our weekends’ trekking to the other side of the islands, hang our hammocks in one of that talisay trees while waiting for the fishermen to go back from fishing. I knew those people so they would always give us some fish we could grill or brought back home at the end of the day.
Sunset watching while sipping your favorite drinks at Pasil. Pasil is known in the whole of San Vicente. We would usually go there for a swim and wait until it gets dark. Please observe the “Leave No Trace” principle.
Karaoke is the only form of entertainment among locals. We always tried to maximize the limited electricity service around the island by enjoying our favorite song at the karaoke bar close to the hospital. Sad to say, it’s only until midnight. After that, the sounds of cicadas dominate the whole island.
Feast of Sto. Nino. Held every January to honor Sto. Nino for protecting the community. It also showcase fluvial parade, cultural dance, and merry-making activities. Coordinate with the municipal tourism officer for schedule of activities.
Accommodation: There are homestays within Destacado Island. Ask the municipal tourism officer and they would be very happy to assist you. There are cottages for rent if planning to stay in Pink Beach.
How to get there: Take a boat in San Isidro, Northern Samar for 120 Php or in Allen for 140 Php. Take note that there is only 1 trip per day except Sunday. Usually, leave at the port to the island at 1300H.